Grand Marja Ayatullah Sayyid Husayn Burujirdi
Sayyid Ḥusayn Burūjirdī Ṭabāṭabāʾī (سيد حسين بروجردي طباطبايي) (b. 1292/1875 d. 1380/1961) was one of the great Shi'a scholars of the 20th century. He was the leader of Shi'a seminary of Qom for 17 years and was officially the only Shi'a religious leader (Marja-e-Taqleed) for 15 years.
Ayatollah sayyid Husayn Burujirdi
He was born in Borujerd in Safar 1292 / March 1875. His father was Sayyid Ali Tabataba'i, also a religious scholar, and his mother was Sayyidah Agha Beygum, the daughter of Sayyid Mohammad Ali Tabataba'i. His linage traces back 30 generations to Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba(a).
After entering elementary school at the age of seven, Sayyid Husayn's father realized his talent for learning and sent him to Nurbakhsh seminary in Borujerd.
At 18, he left Borujerd for Isfahan to continue his education. There, he attended the classes of Sayyid Muhammad Baqir Durchih'i, Mirza Abu al-Ma'ali Kalbasi and Sayyid Mohammad Taqi Mudarris. He also benefited from the philosophy lessons of Akhund Kashi and Jahanqirkhan Qashqa'i. After four years of study, he left Isfahan and returned back to his hometown.
He emigrated to Najaf at the age of 27 and attended the classes of Akhund Khurasani for nine years. He also studied under Sayyid Kazim Yazdi and Shari'at Isfahani.
He had five children - two sons and three daughters - from his first wife, but four of them passed away in their childhood. His remaining daughter from this wife passed away two years after her marriage due to a difficult childbirth.
He had two sons and two daughters from his second wife (the daughter of Hajj Muhammad Ja'far Roughani Isfahani).
His third wife was his cousin, the daughter of Sayyid 'Abd al-Wahid Tabataba'i.
One of his sons, Sayyid Muhammad Hasan Tabataba'i Burujirdi was born in 1925 in Borujerd, and passed away in 1977 in Qom. He was in charge of writing the official verdicts of his father.
His second son, Sayyid Ahmad Tabataba'i, was born in 1937 in Borujerd and passed away in Qom at the age of 19.
Agha Fatemeh Ahmadi Tabataba'i, his older daughter and the wife of Sayyid Ja'far Ahmadi, was born in 1913 and passed away at the age of 80.
Agha Sakina Ahmadi, his second daughter, was born in 1933, and was married to Sayyid Muhammad Husayn 'Alawi Tabataba'i.
His life in Najaf
In 1345/1926, the chairman of a governmental organization in Borujerd appointed a Baha'i person as his deputy. Also at that time, a demonstration of women without hijab was organized in the city. When Burujirdi was informed of these events, to express his dissent, he decided to travel to the holy cities of Iraq. Although the governor of Borujerd dismissed that chairman from his job due to unreligious conduct, Burujirdi emigrated to Najaf.
When 'ulama of Qom decided to criticize Reza Shah Pahlavi by holding a sit-in,'ulama of Najaf also decided to show their disapproval towards Reza Shah, and chose Burujirdi and Shaykh Ahmad Shahroudi to meet with the 'ulama in Qom. However, Burujirdi and his colleague were arrested by the agents of Reza Shah in Qasr-e Shirin and sent to Tehran where Ayatollah Burujirdi met with the Shah. He advised Reza Shah to be righteous in his conduct, and then traveled to Mashhad.
He stayed in Mashhad for 8 months. Ayatollah Muhammad Kifa'i (son of Akhund Khurasani) and Ayatollah Sayyid Husayn Tabataba'i Qomi asked him to lead the congregational prayers in the Goharshad Mosque of the holy Shrine of Imam Reza(a).
After 8 months, he decided to return to Borujerd. On his way there, he visited Qom, and was urged by Shaykh 'Abd al-Karim al-Ha'iri to stay and teach in the seminary of Qom.
Emigration to Borujerd
Due to the insistence of different groups, Burujirdi left Qom and returned to his hometown. After a short time, he went to Tehran for some medical treatment. There, Imam Khomeini and other scholars of Qom visited him and invited him to accept the religious leadership and directorship of the Islamic seminary of Qom.
Staying in Qom
He finally moved to Qom in 1945. Some 'ulama including Imam Khomeini, Sayyid Muhaqqiq Damad, Murtada Ha'iri and Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Khwansari attended his lessons along with their students in order to show his outstanding position and encourage other students to participate in his class.
Sayyid Sadr al-Din al-Sadr, who was leading the congregational prayers in the holy shrine of Lady Ma'sumah in Qom, left his position in favor of Ayatollah Burujirdi. Additionally, Sayyid Muhammad Hujjat left teaching his class so Burujirdi would take over.
Although many people were following Sayyid Burujirdi in terms of religious laws, he officially started his religious leadership (Marja'eeyat) after publishing his practical book of Islamic laws (Risalah Amaliyyah). Thereafter, other scholars invited their followers to accept him as the only religious authority (Marja-e-Taqleed).
A year after the demise of Sayyid Abu al-Hasan Isfahani, many of his followers turned to Burujirdi, and after the demise of Sayyid Husayn Tabataba'i Qomi, he became the only official religious leader (Marja-e-Taqleed) of the Shiite world.
Permission for narrating Hadith
He was authorized to be a Mujtahid by his outstanding teachers, Akhund Khurasani, Shaykh al-Shari'ah Isfahani and Sayyid Abu al-Qasim Dihkurdi. He was given permission to narrate hadith by these same teachers, as well as Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Isfahani (known as Aqa Najafi Isfahani), Agha Buzurg Tihrani and 'Alam al-Huda Malayiri.
He used very simple language in his lessons and avoided unnecessary discussions. Like early Shi'a 'ulama such as Shaykh al-Mufid, Sayyid Murtada, Shaykh al-Tusi, Shaykh Tabarsi and Allamah Bahr al-'Ulum, he had a comprehensive knowledge of many different subjects.
He employed a unique method of study in 'Ilm al-rijal in which he studied the chain of narrators of hadith in the Four Books independently from the narrations. Through this method, he made great contributions to future research.
Jami' ahadith al-shi'a (31 vol)
Tartib asanid man la yahduruh al-faqih
Tartib Rijal asanid man la yahduruh al-faqih
Tartib asanid amali al-saduq
Tartib asanid al-Khisal
Tartib asanid 'ilal al-sharayi'
Tartib asanid tahdhib al-ahkam
Tartib rijal asanid al-tahdhib
Tartib asanid thawab al-a'mal wa 'iqab al-a'mal
Tartib asanid 'idah kutub
Tartib rijal al-Tusi
Tartib asanid rijal al-kashshi
Tartib asanid rijal al-najjashi
Tartib rijal al-fihristayan
Hashiyah 'ala rijal al-najjashi
Hashiyah 'ala 'umdat al-talib fi ansab al abi talib
Hashiyah 'ala manhaj al-maqal
Hashiyah 'ala wasa'il al-shi'a
Al-mahdi (a) fi kutub ahl al-sonah
Hashiyah 'ala majma' al-masa'l
Hashiyah 'ala tabsirah al-muti'allimin
Sayyid Muhammad Rida Gulpayigani
Husayan 'ali Muntaziri
Sayyid 'Ali Sistani
Lutf Allah Safi Gulpayigani
'ali Safi Gulpayigani
Muhammad Fadil Lankarani
Sayyid Musa Shubiyri Zanjani
He was a sincere believer. Whenever he was praised by others for his contributions to the Shi'a community he would say: "Purify your acts from hypocrisy, for the watcher (God) is very sharp-sighted."
Ayatullah Burujirdi never stopped acquiring knowledge until the last moments of his life. He used to say, "I never get tired of studying; rather, when I get tired, I relax by studying."
He would tolerate and forgive the disrespectful behavior of his critics.
In the last days of Burujirdi's life, Professor Muris (a French physician) came from Paris to treat him. Before seeing the professor, he asked for a comb to tidy his beard. His friends told him this was not necessary since he was sick, but he answered, “I am the religious leader of Shi'a and it is not acceptable that I visit a non-Muslim with an untidy look."
He was not afraid to frankly declare his opposition to some superstitious customs in the mourning ceremonies of Imam Husayn (a).
Ayatollah Burujirdi vowed that if he became angry, he would fast for one year.
As reported by Ayatollah Gulpayigani, "Ayatollah Burujirdi frequently expressed his regret that he did not find the opportunity to become martyred."
Islamic Center of Hamburg, Germany, one of the Ayatollah Burujirdi's social services
A'zam Mosque, Qom built by the order of Ayatollah Burujirdi
According to Martyr Mutahhari, Ayatollah Burujirdi was eager to establish schools with religious management so that future generations would become religious and knowledgeable. He thus spent a considerable amount of religious tax to carry out this task.
Ayatullah Burujurdi invited famous people and businessmen to his house and requested them to financially help the needy. Because of World War II, the price of food had gone up in Borujerd and the people were living in hardship. He himself spent much of his property for this cause.
The city of Borujerd also lacked electricity, but by the order of Ayatollah Burujirdi and the help of some religious people, a power plant was constructed to rectify the problem.
Under his leadership, many political and social changes took place in the administration of seminaries and publication of religious books. Furthermore, many religious scholars were sent to other cities and countries to preach religious beliefs and fulfill the religious needs of people.
Some of the charitable and religious organizations which were built during his time are: 'A'zam Mosque in the holy Shrine of Lady Ma'sumah in Qom, Baghdad Mosque, a hospital in Najaf, Neku'i hospital in Qom, and the Islamic center in Hamburg, Germany.
As indicated by his support for Ayatollah Sayyid Abu al-Qasim Kashani, Ayatullah Burujirdi believed in participating in political activities for the purpose of defending religion.
He held a firm and clear position in opposition to Israel. In 1948, he issued an announcement condemning the occupation of Palestine and wished victory for the Palestinian people.
Ayatollah Burujirdi passed away in 1961. His son, Muhammad Hasan Tabataba'i, led his funeral prayer. After his death, the ambassadors of many Islamic countries expressed their condolences, and the embassies of some non-Islamic countries raised their flags at half-mast to express their respect. His body is buried in the Shrine of Lady Ma'sumah in Qom.
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'Alavi, sayyid Muhammad husayn, Khatirat zindigani ayatullah burujirdi, intisharat itila'at, *Tehran, 1341sh/ 1962
Majalih hawzih, no 43-44
Markaz intisharat daftar tablighat islami hawizh 'ilmiya Qom, shukuh fiqahat, Qom, 1379 sh/ 2000
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